Emilie Richards, 7, is 3-foot-6, 48 pounds, quick with a smile, and runs holding her stuffed dog, Anarctica. But don't let her petite size and sweet demeanor fool you. Emilie's tough. She also suffers from asthma, but that didn't stop her from completing the Junior division in the inaugural My-Tri Triathlon at Bass Lake Sept. 7, finishing the 50-yard swim, 1.5 mile bike and 1/2 mile run in 23 minutes, 42 seconds.
After the event, Emilie said the biking was her favorite part of the race and the lake water was warm.
"It felt really good to finish the race," Emilie said. "It made my legs get moving."
The daughter of Steve and Kim Richards of Oakhurst, it was Emilie's asthma that had the family relocate from Visalia to Oakhurst for better air quality when she was two.
Emilie dressed Anarctica in a running outfit before the race and he rode in a little white basket attached to her purple bike's handlebars. Emilie clutched him in her arms throughout the whole 1/2 mile run.
Emilie's race bib was No. 44 and she was still wearing it like a badge of honor a day after the event.
Emilie's mother said the race was awesome.
"It was a real fun event well organized, well thought out and every kid had a great time regardless of their level of ability," Kim said. "There was lots of encouragement and celebrating by everyone. It was the kind of event that made you walk away feeling real good."
More than 100 children, aged five to 17, entered the water in waves (by age division) off the dock at Miller's Landing Resort between 7:15 and 7:45 a.m.
Prior to the start of the first wave of swimmers, race co-director Michelle Miller reminded children and parents the rules of the race, and told the competitors to, above all, have fun. Carrie Waltner was race co-director.
Danny and Anna Martinez of North Fork had four children in the race who all did well Peter, 13, Daniel, 11, Esther, 8, and Jesse, 6.
Ester, who took first in her age group, said the race was fun and challenging. Peter enjoyed doing the race with a lot of his friends and placed third in his age group, and Daniel placed second in his age group. Jesse said he had a lot of fun even though his bike chain came off during the race. A quick repair job made it possible for him to cross the finish line.
"This was an awesome event," Anna said. "I was so happy that we had a great event like his in our own back yard. We usually have to go out of town for events like this."
Nearly 80 trained volunteers lined the three-miles course under the direction of co-race director Michelle Miller for the swim, Dave Cicoletti on the bike course, and Taylor Olney on the run portion of the race. Tenaya Wave oversaw the transition area.
Volunteers were everywhere on the race course for the safety of all the participants. Yosemite High School students Brooke Di Fiore and Janae Nelson helped with the event as their senior project.
Volunteer Linda Maddox said it was great to see the large number of volunteers that showed up at 5 a.m. to set-up the race course and the registration tables.
"It was great to see all the parents and children who were so excited it was almost a carnival atmosphere," Maddox said. "I was honored to be a part of this inaugural event. After seeing the tremendous success of this event, there is no doubt this youth triathlon will become a popular new tradition for Bass Lake."
Kelea Kamalani, 15, a sophomore at Minarets High School who plays volleyball, basketball and softball, won the girl's 15-17 Master's division, consisting of a 100-yard swim, four mile bike ride and one mile swim.
"At first I was going to do the Junior division, but decided to do the longer course," Kamalani said. "The swim and the bike were pretty easy but the run was pretty hard. I'm glad I did the race and I'll come back next year."
Race organizers provided poster board and markers for parents to make signs for their children.
Carey Smith of Oakhurst and Molly Rich of Yosemite Lakes Park stood together holding their signs to encourage their children. Smith's son, Braydon, 7, was in the race and Rich's three children, Meagan, 12, Emily, 10, and Cody, 7, were all in the race.
"My children always run with me but this is their first triathlon," Rich said.
"We each have such wonderful images burned in our minds of this extraordinary event," Miller said. "From swimmers counting down for the next heat to start, cheering parents, transition area volunteers tying shoes, bike course volunteers waving kids in the right direction and keeping children safe, a life guard who swam the whole distance with an athlete with words of encouragement, run volunteers running alongside tired athletes, and a little competitor completing the 1.5 mile bike course with training wheels."
Miller said the best moments of the day were seeing the smiles on all the kids faces.
"And those smiles were how we measured our success for the inaugural MyTri Triathlon."
The event was sponsored by the Children's Educational Foundation from the Chawankee Unified School District with about $2,500 in proceeds benefiting the athletic and art programs at North Fork Elementary School.
1st Ben Olney - North Fork
2nd Jack Olney - North Fork
3rd Luca DeBernardi - Bass Lake
1st Evelyn Marshall - North Fork
2nd Cailin Manning - ?
3rd Toni DeVito - Oakhurst
1st Dominic DeBernardi - Bass Lake
2nd Logan Bradley - Oakhurst
3rd Daniel Weir - Coarsegold
1st Ester Martinez - NF
2nd Adalie Waltner - NF
3rd Ashlyn Waltner - Fresno
1st Christopher Stuber - NF
2nd Justin Beaumont - Coarsegold
3rd Grayson Kendall - Coarsegold
1st Lauren Griffin - ?
2nd Luna Moreno - NF
3rd Hannah Beaumont - Coarsegold
1st Brendan Reed-Crabb - Fresno
2nd Sage Crosswhite - Ahwahnee
1st Felicity Johnson - NF
1st Orion Cicoletti - NF
2nd Daniel Martinez - NF
3rd Luke Little - Coarsegold
1st Clair Tuggle - Coarsegold
2nd Elianna Torres - Fresno
3rd Mia Coffman - El Portal
1st Theodore Tuggle - Coarsegold
2nd Burke Stewart - Bass Lake
3rd Peter Martinez - NF
1st Ella Campbell - Coarsegold
2nd Juliana Sullivan - Clovis
3rd Megan Rich - Coarsegold
1st Quinn Hilliard - Oakhurst
1st Kelea Kamalani - Coarsegold
2nd Ashley Reed-Crabb - Fresno
3rd Brooklyn Bragdone - ?ne -